Posted Saturday, February 18 2012 at 20:41
Kenya has welcomed International Rugby Board’s (IRB) abrupt introduction of promotion and relegation to the core teams in the World Sevens Series.
“This is an elite competition and we welcome the chance to compete,” the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) development manager, Fred Ollows, said on Saturday.
“There is nothing to back us other than our performance and we are ready for that.”
IRB surprised many unions recently when they announced that from next season the world sevens circuit will have promotion and relegation from the core team status to increase competition.
Fifteen teams will compete as core nations in the 2012/2013 season. A qualification tournament will he held during the March 23-25 Hong Kong leg of the circuit from at Hong Kong Stadium.
With the event doubling as the Sevens World Series core team qualifier, two 12-team competitions will be played side by side at the 40,000-capacity venue.
One will feature the current 12 core teams, drawn into three pools – A, B and C.
The other will have 12 teams from across the six IRB rugby regions playing for three additional core team places in the 2012/13 World Series, in pools D, E and F.
Kenya are in a tough ‘A’ that also comprises Samoa, England and Argentina.
The two finalists and the winner of the third-fourth play-off of the qualification competition will earn core team status on the 2012-13 World Series.
Ollows was confident Kenya, who have in recent years consistently finished top 10 in the world, had the players to maintain these high standards.
Want to be in Olympics
“Rugby will be at the Olympics in 2016 and we want to be in the party,” he said.
“We have a well-balanced team. We also have a lot of talent coming out of school to form the next generation of Kenyan seven players.
“It will be question of who is playing his best rugby when the 2016 Olympics approaches.”
Ollows cited Dan Sikuta (Mwamba), Billy Odhiambo (Strathmore), Samuel Muntari (Strathmore) Joseph Opuk (Kisumu), Lamek Dunde (ex-St Mary’s Yala), Robert Odhiambo (ex-St Mary’s, Nairobi) as the youngsters to watch.